Nicole N. Alaska

Mental/Emotional Health in Schools

The importance of getting support for mental and emotional health for children and teens in the school system is very important.

Dear Future President,

One of the many things I feel you should do as the president is address one of the many problems in school; support for children and teenagers mental and emotional health problems. Children and teens would do much better academically if they had the support they needed. Mental and emotional health should be taken into account while dealing with schools.

Schools have become more about good grades rather than on learning life skills and keeping good mental and emotional health. It has become an increasingly big problem in our society today. “Children and youth with mental health challenges sometimes experience difficulty at school for a variety of reasons. ACMH receives frequent calls from parents whose kids are struggling to be successful or sometimes not even being allowed to stay at school due to unaddressed mental health needs. Accessing the services that children and youth may need to help them better manage and support their mental health needs at school can be quite challenging” ( Many children and teenagers suffer from mental and emotional health. Getting help and support to deal with those problems just isn’t an option in many schools. It has affected our schools majorly, it as long as a child get a good grade on a report card, their mental and emotional struggles just don’t seem to matter. Struggling with these issues had become increasingly harder in the school system, kids get so stressed out about getting good grades that they feel that as long as a good grade shows up, that their mental and emotional health doesn’t matter as long as they pass a class. Some of these children really do need help and support just to make it through some days and they just can’t get it in schools or even at home sometimes. Some families can’t afford therapy or counseling because the stress can become overwhelming, some children are even scared to reach out and ask for help or tell someone they’re not okay some days in fear of being discriminated against or being told that they’re fine and it isn’t important or isn’t real. Emotional and mental health issues have become somewhat of a “social norm” over the years and many people see it as a way of getting attention, that if someone is struggling with a mental disorder or mental and emotional health issue that the person is simply seeking attention, causing most people to just turn the blind eye.

I, myself have struggled with mental and emotional health issues over the years and I know what it’s like to feel helpless wanting to reach out, only to be turned down. The school I’ve attended since 6th grade (still am attending, currently a senior) has had a “counselor” that is supposed to be there to help you figure out classes, arrange schedules, and maybe help you from time to time. Yes, this is a nice thing to have in schools but sometimes it just isn’t enough for some kids. Sometimes having to sit through class while struggling with something like that can just be too much, it can get too overwhelming for some kids and it makes it harder for them to focus and learn the material being taught in class.

So this is what I’m suggesting; schools should consider having a designated counselor with a comfortable room where kids can go if they’re feeling overwhelmed, struggling to focus, anything that may have to do with a mental or emotional health problem so that they are able to get help and support where they aren't forced to talk about it if they don't want to, they could simply just take a "chill pass" and calm down. Maybe even an informative course for those who would like to learn more about mental and emotional health issues and how to cope with them and help people struggling with these issues/mental health screening and a half an hour to an hour period where students can de-stress and relax or do some school work if need be; like a study hall but not made as a mandatory period to do work, if someone needs a break from all the work and stress they should be able to take a short break to do so.

One way we could help with this issue is starting schools later in a day rather than first thing in the morning. This could benefit many students as well as teachers (many schools start anywhere from 7am-8am). According to KQED News’ article on How Schools Can Help Nature Students Mental Health, allowing children to sleep in is better for them. The article states that teenagers don’t sleep enough and that affects their mental health and ability to calculate and compose sentences, the recommended amount of sleep for teenagers and adolescences is 8 ½ to 9 ½ hours each night but it’s hard for most teenagers to fall asleep before 10:30 but as much as 87% of kids don’t get enough sleep. The University of Minnesota researchers did a study on the impact of later starting times for schools and found that grades and attendance improved.

More evidence for how starting schools later, allowing kids to sleep more would help is published in The Harvard Health Publications. An article from the Harvard Medical School states that “During "quiet" sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow. The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.

The other sleep category, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, is the period when people dream. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake. Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory, and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.

 Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they've discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation. In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders, and vice versa.”

So again, I encourage you to consider these facts and make changes allowing this to happen in schools across the country if we don’t do something about this issue it may worsen for many children. As stated previously, this is a major issue in our country and this may not be a big change or a huge step into fixing this problem but it’s a start.

Please don’t mess this up,